By ARTHUR L. MACK
Baker High star and Auburn commit Labaron Philon was named the Alabama Gatorade Basketball Player of the Year on Wednesday.
Philon, a 6-4 junior point guard, followed former McGill-Toolen standout Barry Dunning Jr. in winning the award. Dunning, who now plays at Arkansas, won the award in 2021 and 2022 and was also named the state’s Mr. Basketball in 2022.
“It’s a great feeling for the Alabama area,” Philon said. “It’s a great feeling after Barry got it for the last two years and me getting it this year. It’s a great accomplishment.”
As a junior, Philon averaged 35 points per game, led the nation in scoring most of the season and is currently ninth. He also shot 51% from the field, 34% from 3-point range and 82% from the free-throw line.
“I think he’s very deserving of the recognition for a lot of hard work,” said Hornets coach David Armstrong, who believes Philon is the first Baker player to win the award. “For him to receive that award is huge. It’s huge to have that banner hanging in the gym and it’s going to be nice to see. I’m proud of what he’s become and I’m proud of what he’s going to be.”
Philon, who led Baker to the Class 7A South Regional title game, was also named the MaxPreps Alabama Player of the Year and chosen by the Mobile Optimist Club as the Class 7A Player of the Year.
He is expected to be a contender for the Alabama Sports Writers Association’s Mr. Basketball Award, which will be announced on April 6 in Montgomery.
“It was a great award for me and my family,” Philon said. “One morning, I was late for school and I woke up and got continuous calls. I was very happy I won the award. It’s a great reputation for my school and my classmates and I can’t forget my teammates because they helped me to get to where I was.”
Armstrong said the award is also a shining moment for Baker.
“Today, I was standing outside on my morning duty and some kid who I’ve never seen in my life was walking by and he said to the kid next to him, ‘Hey, did you know Labaron won the Gatorade Player of the Year award?’” Armstrong said. “The biggest thing about that to me is the kids recognize who he is. He may be just another student but he’s also a really, really good basketball player. They recognized how special that was for them and for Baker High School.”